LACO is one of these very old German tie manufacturers most people have never heard of before. In fact, LACO is Germany’s oldest tie manufacturer that is still in existence, and hence I would like to present you with a portrait of the company as well as with a video.
The Englishman Charles Lavy started trading under the name Chs. Lavy on January 1st, 1838 in Hamburg, Germany. At every opportunity, he strove to become one of Europe’s most successful entrepreneurs. Due to his effort and skill, he was able to make a name for himself in cities like Paris and London. Surprisingly, the company manufactured suits, dressing gowns, car coats, buttons and walking canes in addition to bed linens and toiletries.
Ties as we know them today did not exist back then. In the 1870s neckties started to become popular, and so business savvy Mr. Lavy decided to invest in the production of the four-in-hand-tie. Being the first in Germany to manufacture a modern tie, he quickly became the number one producer in the country and by 1906, Lavy employed almost 500 people to produce ties and ready-to-wear apparel.
At the same time, Lavy expanded into the import-export business, handling tea, soap and English drops. At this point, LACO was so big that they had their own customs officials in a separate house.
In 1943, bombs destroyed LACO’s headquarters, but production continued throughout the war in empty restaurants and warehouses.
Today, LACO produces mostly ties and a few other accessories. Although many companies have outsourced manufacturing to low cost countries, LACO apparently only produces in Hamburg, Germany.
On the company website, LACO emphasizes its “hand made” ties that are supported by apprentices who learn the craft over an 18 to 24 month period. In the video below, you can see how the tie pieces are sewn together with a machine before they are put into the LIBA machine. This is a perfect example pf a very wide definition of “hand made”. Personally, I would never dream of describing a tie made with a LIBA machine as handmade. Handmade means sewn entirely by hand just like the ties from Fort Belvedere.
However, the presence of machines also explains how 12 tie makers can make 200,000 ties a year. If you break that down, it takes about 6 minutes to make a single tie from start to finish, including cutting. That’s simply impossible when done by hand only – and I literally mean by hand.
Each year, Laco designs 500 to 800 tie patterns, which are then woven in Italy.
In the following, you can see how LACO ties are made.